04/07/15 Walk a Mile Capitalism for beginners.

Snuggle down with a steaming mug of cocoa folks, this is going to be even more entertaining than Dr Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Fun with Flags’.

That said, I think it’s important for us to prepare for Ozzie’s cornucopia of joy – otherwise known as ‘The Budget’ – coming up this week.
I’m going to fire some questions your way and you’re going to respond with, ‘I know this…er…I think I know this…I thought I knew this…’ before doing exactly what I did – googling the answers. 
What is Capitalism?
Possibly the best way to look at that question is to first ask ‘what is capital’? 
Well, the Google dictionary tells me that capital is…
‘wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available for a purpose such as starting a company or investing.’
Lovely. 
This philosophy that we live by in our Western Society puts the ownership of THINGS at the forefront of our minds. 
Whatever, do you think, happened to peopleism? 
Ok, let’s make it a bit more peopley – why not try thinking about a place where folk meet up? 
Let’s ask…
What is the Market?
For those of you who immediately thought of 2 furry critters trying to persuade you to buy car insurance, there really is no hope for you…
Well, as you all know, back in the day, the ancient Greeks would exchange their bits and bobs at the Agora – an outdoor market place – an institution from which agoraphobia was born. 
Traders would meet the steely gaze of others, getting the best deal buying and selling grain and cattle and shit…not literally shit, you understand…shit just sounded a bit more gangster than ‘other sundry goods’.
In this day and age, the vast majority of the world’s trading happens through our great financial institutions – the Nasdaq – the London Stock Exchange and Kwik-E-Mart, where stockbrokers meet the steely gaze of…
Er…well…actually…
A lot of this cumbersome buying and selling is now done by machines. Well, by computer algorithms to be more precise…
When I say ‘a lot’, I actually mean around 80% of all financial trading transactions are done through algo-trading. 
To help get your head around this – imagine playing Monopoly where the participants were only allowed to play every fifth turn.
Fun and engaging? Yeah, I know! 
For those of you who’ve been fearful of a terminator style, Artificial Intelligence world domination scenario, it looks like…
a) The machines have already taken over and…
b) It would have made a really shit film.
Hold on – I know what you’re thinking…yes, other than ‘when will this blog ever end, I could be watching Wimbledon?’
You’re thinking there must be a point when this gets altogether more…yes, let’s keep using the word…peopley.
Worry no more, dear reader, worry no more…
The next question is…
What is The Economy?
The Greeks – yes, the Greeks AGAIN – those wise people from which civilisation sprang forth – were the same folk who came up with the economy.
Only, when they thought of it, it was a lot more homely. The direct translation means ‘managing the household’.
Yes…at last – the household, the home where people live, love, work, rest, play and die. 
Only…
Well, what do YOU think of when somebody mentions THE ECONOMY?
Personally, I think of some big bloated creature, that looks not unlike Jabba the Hutt, that must be continuously fed lest we feel it’s wrath.
A creature that MUST grow at ALL costs.
Even though simple physics states that this is impossible, a fatter, ever growing economy is essential for…
Er…essential for what exactly? 
I would think that though, I’m a…communist? Humanist? Long haired naive hippy? 
As part of Capitalism, an ever growing and healthy private sector is essential. 
To help me understand the functioning of this mindset, I like to reflect on the shenanigans of the participants in the ‘Apprentice’, that caricature of all things market driven, where profit is king. 
Where folk buy shit, dust it down and polish it up, and flog it for something it isn’t. 
That said, it advertises that great British belief that stresses how important it is for us to stand on our own two feet. Where we shouldn’t expect handouts. Where we should be strivers, not skivers. 
Where we shouldn’t look to the government to support – in fact the government should keep their grubby mitts out of our day to day lives…
That government is best that governs least…
….as someone or other once said.
There should be a safety net – but people who work should never receive less than these skivers…should they? I mean it’s ridiculous that these parasitic….
How much do you get on job seekers allowance? 
£57.90 if you’re under 25
£73.10 if you’re 25 and over
I’m going to help old Ozzie with his sums here. He wants to save £12 billion from the welfare benefits budget – but he’s told us that he’s not going to take it from disabled folk or pensioners. 
So, that means he just has to stop giving job seekers allowance to just over 3 million folk for a year. 
The problem is there are only 1.83 million folk getting the benefit…
No worries – we’ll just give them nothing for 2 years…sorted. 
Just recently, Jeremy Hunt has made the suggestion that, so people are aware of the burden they’re being on the tax payer, pharmacy dispensaries should put the actual cost of the medication on each of the items. 
It’s essential that we move on from this something for nothing culture. 
People need to know the value of money. 
To this end – the queen’s going to have ‘I’m paid £3798 an hour’ embroidered onto her crown. 
Hysterical whimsy aside, we’re living in strange, hypocritical times. 
We have campaign groups pushing for folk to be paid a living wage. 
Read that again and allow yourself to appreciate how ludicrous that sounds. 
We are one of the most wealthy countries in the world and yet here we are having a discussion about whether or not we should pay people enough to participate in our society.
It’s ok though, the government tops up the income of low paid workers – so we don’t need to worry about that. 
A recent study has estimated that the government pays £11 billion in working tax credits to low paid workers every year.
Companies that are making substantial profits are saving money by short changing their employees. 
We’re told that a living wage would make companies less competitive – less competitive with companies in countries where working and living conditions are so bad it would be fair to say we’ve managed to outsource slavery – out of sight out of mind. 
But, hold on, hadn’t we decided in this capitalist world, where only the fittest survive, that companies should stand or fall by what happens in the markets? 
That people who rely on government handouts are skivers who somehow deserve their impoverished position in society? 
Surely by paying £11 billion in working tax credits we are indirectly paying these huge, already very profitable, companies to compete in their respective markets?
Whatever happened to market forces? 
Like the banks in the early noughties, these corporations give themselves a good ol’ capitalist slap on the back when publishing their profits, but they’re very quick to develop communist anti-market leanings when it looks like they can get a handout…sorry, bailout from the taxpayer(s) – I think there’s more than one. 
Think of all the money we’d save if old Ozzers did away with tax credits at the same time as ensuring that all of the workers in the UK were paid the living wage. 
Or if some control was placed on the wildly out of control private rent market?
Which really isn’t a market when the purveyors of accommodation can charge what they like and local government will pay accordingly. 
Ah, well, now, you see…Iain Duncan Smith has come up with a remedy for this – cap the benefits of any household to £20 thousand a year.
Please note – there’s no notion of controlling the increase in the cost of private rents – just the individual’s ability to pay for them. 
But somehow we’ll keep blaming the poor. 
To help with the situation, on Wednesday, Ozzie is going to cut working tax credits – to save the underpaid from the revolving door of paying taxes just to get them back again. 
Administratively this isn’t a terrible idea – but I’d be astonished if these shirking workers (people who inhabit that limbo – that no man’s land between receiving a living wage and being on benefits) were as well off post budget as they are now. 
Watch Ozzie as he tells us how the low paid are being exempted from paying taxes – then allow yourself a moment of quiet reflection as you wonder to yourself, 
‘What is national insurance?’
You’ll obviously come to the same conclusion as me – it’s a charitable donation to the government – er, to themselves – to us. 
Definitely not a tax. 
No…
Hold on Chris, I thought this was a beginners lesson on Capitalism?
Head spinning?
Circles within spirals?
Wheels within wheels? 
Let’s keep it simple then.
Capitalism is whatever those in power tell you it is. 
Anything else is the politics of envy. 
You just need to be a bit more patient for those trickle down economics we’ve been told about. 
Do you know, I started this blog fully believing that I had some manner of grasp of all this…
I can’t help but think that this all reflects a general lack of walkamileyness…
If only we could…
Looks winsomely out the window…
Walk a mile
Chris

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02/07/15 What will you be doing on the 3rd of September this year? 

Ok, let’s narrow it down a bit. What will you be doing at 6.30 in the evening on that date? 

Go on…have a think…
Isn’t that uncle…er…no…
Nothing?
Great – Walk a Royal Mile is the very thing to plug that aching void in your diary. 
You’re welcome. 
For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten, the simple aim of this, very short, ramble is to get people talking. 
Challenging mental health stigma one conversation at a time.
It really is that straightforward. 
It’s important though, to remember that this isn’t a one way street. 
No.
We all have our prejudices that get in the way of getting along with folk. 
Many of you will be aware of the growth of ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitudes across social media. 
On one side we have your mental health punters – users of services – people with lived experience…
On the other (s) we have the professionals – social care, healthcare – primary and secondary (loosely speaking your GP is primary and hospitals and all their gubbins are secondary) – and then we have the voluntary sector – often known as the third sector. 
We exist in our separate silos – growing support from the people we see as our peers, but sadly, fermenting prejudice and, at times, hatred of THE OTHERS….
There isn’t a great deal of research, good or otherwise, in this area – but quality investigation would be no mean feat.
Imagine being presented with a questionnaire that asks,
‘Are you prejudiced against black, white, Eastern European, Muslim…and so on…folk?’
You’re a good, liberally minded sort, so you reply,
‘Of course not…some of my best friends are…well, no, they’re not, but they would be if…’
And yet…for example…let’s forget about the increased chance of being stopped and searched/ arrested/ along with a reduced chance of being offered private rented accommodation…
I was recently at a large conference looking at the human rights of people with mental health problems. 
One of the things we rapidly noticed was that folk from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were under represented at the gathering. 
I sat with one guy who appeared a bit agitated at the recent rebranding of these groups. 
‘They (?) call themselves BAME (see above) now…’
I’m guessing a lot of them (?) are referring to themselves as Oliver, George, Muhammad, Isabelle, Niamh and Noor…other names are available – but you get my drift.
Further into the conversation, this same guy explained that the absence of folk from BAME groups was down to the fact (?) that they (?) look after themselves. 
I asked him, words to the effect of, how can we, I, you possibly know that? 
He didn’t – and neither did I – although I suspect folk from all walks of life will have a similar need for mental health services. 
There was a recognition at the conference that there was more we all could be doing in this respect. 
Although there may be no or little intention behind it – we all discriminate. 
Not convinced? 
Imagine a typical social worker…
GP?
Psychiatrist?
Conservative MP? 
Were you aware that medical doctors are twice as likely – when compared with the general population – to take their own lives? 
…that some reports indicate that as many as a third of all social workers take antidepressants?

Have you ever considered there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’?

And that we have more similarities than differences? 
That often – I wouldn’t have the audacity to this was the case all the time – stigmatising actions are born out of ignorance and clumsiness – that often there is little or no malice attached to them? 
Walk a Royal Mile is an attempt to distill Walk a Mile the ramble into a single event – something that can be replicated time and again to demonstrate that…
PEOPLE ARE FABULOUS
For those of you who’ve followed the sacred ramble for any length of time, you’ll now this to be true. 
This is simple to say – but perhaps more challenging to put into action…
Prejudice – prejudging someone – need not necessarily be a bad thing…
Imagine meeting someone, from any walk of life, and believing that, before you’ve even started talking to them, they’re fabulous. 
Instead of looking at folk through the shit filter of negative discrimination – where you interpret everything they do and say accordingly, try these rose tinted spectacles where you’ll see…well, you’ll see something…someone entirely different. 
Don’t believe me? Go and read some more walkamile blogs – right from day 1 people have been, without wanting to overuse the word, fabulous. 
That said, I wouldn’t be naive enough to suggest there aren’t actions by people in power that are knowingly stigmatising against people with mental health problems and/ or other disabilities…
It’s pretty easy to come up with a shopping list of prejudice from recent governments – labour – conservative and liberals – that have singled out vulnerable folk time and time again. 
I’ll leave that to you to look up…
So, back to the 3rd of September. 
We’ll soon have a new shiny website where you can sign up…
People – as I think I may have mentioned – are fabulous. 
Come along…even if you haven’t joined online, I’m sure we’ll find someone to walk with you. 
Take some time to have a chat with someone you don’t know. 
Walk a mile in their shoes.
Chris 

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15/06/15 Borderline Personality Disorder is Shit

No, I didn’t say people WITH borderline personality disorder are shit – I save that label for the condition itself. 
You can read here what others say it’s like to live with a ‘Borderline’ – I’m still astonished at the language some professionals and academics use…
Weird, isn’t it? You wouldn’t call someone with a virus ‘a flu’ or someone with a broken leg ‘a fracture’, would you? 
Anyway – I’ve already digressed. 
A few days ago I dipped into dissociation, something I do from time to time – where my experience of the world changes radically from ‘happily engaged’ to ‘removed’. 
At these times I feel nothing – the world is distant – the world isn’t real – I’m not real. Stairs become a weird challenge. I have difficulty finding the right…at times, any words.
Fine – we’ve seen this before, it’s time to apply pills, a darkened room and loud American cop shows – not necessarily in that order. 
Only this time I was supposed to be getting on and doing something. As many of you will know, walkamile has become closely involved with the lovely people at See Me Scotland. This particular task was purely administrative. Something that I can ordinarily do standing on one…
The way our enthusiastic, skilled and imaginative team of folk has evolved means that the slack can be picked up instantly. In this case it was the, ‘whatever did we do without her in the past?’ Eleanor who picked it up and ran with it – to be perfectly honest it’s likely she’s done a much better job of it than I would have…
But that’s great – to work with a team that has that fluidity – that ability to ebb and flow as required – is fabulous. 
None judgemental support…no, scratch that…POSITIVELY judgemental support.
It made me think a bit about disability legislation and what ‘reasonable adjustments’ can be made in the workplace that goes beyond the ‘you’re well/ you’re unwell – you work/ you don’t work’ approach that many employers subscribe to. 
Perhaps there’s hope to be had there. 
The other day, while I was dissociated and drugged, the lovely Ella was involved in a car accident. 
Back at Ella’s, the phone rang a couple of times – but I followed our usual protocol of not answering it…Ella would deal with it when she got back. 
The phone rang a lot – Ella’s son answered it – it was Ella’s sister – affectionately known as Auntie Debba – who’d been trying to get through. 
She told me about the accident – how some holiday makers from Canada had mistakingly thought they’d had the right of way when turning right across a main road. 
Ella was fine, but there were concerns that she’d broken her sternum – paramedics were giving her morphine at the scene – they were going to take her to hospital – it would be good for her to see someone she knew. 
I had no words – the woman I love – I adore and cherish had been beaten up in a car accident and I had the same emotional response as if someone had told me they’d bought some cheese. 
Nothing. 
Auntie Debba quickly mobilised our lovely friend, Cecilia, who snuggled up with Ella on the side of the road with a blanket…her delightful husband Mark smiling in the background saying, ‘Ella, I know you said we should meet up soon…but….’
Auntie Debba talked Ella’s boys through what happened.
In short, she was fabulous.
With all this going on, I blindly bobbed around in my surreal world. 
With all this going on there was a universal acceptance that I wouldn’t have a great deal to offer…anyone at this point. 
I was blandly off my face on pills when Ella arrived home late that night. 
An X-ray of her sternum had proved inconclusive – that said, apparently the treatment for a bruised or a cracked breastbone (as long as it hadn’t punctured a lung) is the same. 
Lots of painkillers. 
She got a taxi home from Warwick – £50, thanks very much – apparently there were no ambulances available. He raced across the nocturnal countryside like Carlos Fandango, with little attention paid to the precious and fragile cargo he had bouncing about in the back. 
Weirdly there was no acknowledgement of her injuries or that she’d just been traumatised in a car accident. 
I wasn’t aware of her until the following morning. 
Over the next few days I returned to reality as (as predicted) Ella’s pain increased. 
The lovely thing for me was that I could be the carer I’d would have liked to have been right from the start. 
Yes, I appreciate it’s all been dazzlingly shit for the lovely Ella – her pain has been so invasive and relentless- but I’ve been delighted at the care and love I’ve been able to throw her way.
If I give it the air time, guilt has been, and can be, a crawling pernicious cancer that can stop me in my tracks. If only I could have been…if only I was…
WHY CAN’T I JUST BE FUCKING NORMAL?? 
For me, this is about self acceptance and forgiveness – which can be a bit of a wrestling match. 
It’s funny – now I’m firing on all cylinders – it’s a privilege to be supporting the lovely Ella with everything I can…
I smile as she apologises yet again….’I’m sorry Chris, but could you…?’
Even with all my guilt nonsenses, it’s my hope she can get to the point of asking me to do something for her without a hint of an apology. 
Yes, I know, I’m positively oozing hipocrisy there, but I know you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me…
And once you have forgiven me, any hot tips on how to do exactly that would be gratefully accepted. 
My lovely Ella’s on the mend – her GP has tweaked her pain control to make it all a bit more bearable. 
Shame really, I love looking after her. 
Borderline personality disorder IS shit – but, as I’ve said before, for me, like many folk with this mental malady, it doesn’t define me. 
Walk a Mile
Chris

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31/05/15 What is the meaning of this? 

A couple of days ago, Susie Boniface, under her Nom de plume, ‘Fleet Street Fox’ wrote this, er, somewhat enthusiastic piece about the Parker Family.

As you may have read this is a family who have lived beyond their means…who have too many children…who are work shy…who have let themselves down….etc…
Go back and read it. Apart from the odd jibe about Prince Edward and Dave’s storm troopers, it wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of the Daily Mail, or on the Twitter stream of Hatey Poptart (I never can remember that woman’s name).
It exudes ‘back in my day’ and, ‘You’re LUCKY, I once met a poor person from (insert impoverished country of your choice here), ‘and they didn’t complain/ they got on with their lives…
She even managed to pluck the poor squaddy who’d been blown to bits, yet still managed to run a marathon/ is in gainful employment/ does work for CHARITEEEEEEE…out of the ether…
It’s beyond parody. 
So why write this now? In this, the last bastion of the labour voter, redtop – what’s going on? 
We know that when politicians and papers give us examples of…well, anything regarding people really…they’re trying to nudge us towards the belief that this tiny sample of folk are representative of the huge cohort to which we’ve been told they belong. 
So – huge families – living off the state – feckless – workless – amoral – bastards. 
Oh, did I mention they own some THINGS? Things that you and I might own – hard working people who’ve strived, scrimped and saved to accumulate? 
Surely then, it’s right to cap benefits, to sanction folk, to talk about them as if they were Untermenschen? Although, granted, she managed to avoid saying ‘cockroach’ once. 
So, what’s an article like this doing in a notoriously left wing newspaper? 
My fear is that it’s a reflection of a, mistaken in my opinion, view that the electorate are careering towards the right – I mean, that must be the reason they didn’t vote for Red Ed, isn’t it? 
Isn’t it?
By publishing this hateful diatribe, the Mirror are saying, ‘Hey, we’re like you, oh great blue party who got voted in….we’re for hardworking people…we’re distancing ourselves from these lazy workless tossers who caused our great country to implode on itself…et fucking cetera…’ 
Are these people, the Parkers, being held up as some kind of subliminal threat? If you don’t tow the line, if you don’t do what we expect…then look, not only will your life turn to shit, but the whole country will be standing at your garden gate to berate you, just in case you hadn’t quite got the message that you’d fucked up on the American (whoops, my bad) UK dream? 
I’ve been in that position – sure, I didn’t have a zillion kids – but at no point could the abject misery of becoming homeless and applying for benefits, when you know the media is pedalling an image of you as a scrounging bastard, at no point could this be seen as an Enid fucking Blyton adventure. 
These are scary times when folk who have their flags firmly planted in the right wing camp are commenting on reports in a left wing newspaper saying, ‘FINALLY, you agree with/ understand our viewpoint…’ 
A relentless trundle to the right isn’t healthy or, as many in the Labour Party think, necessary. 
If a vacuum is left where folk feel there is no voice for them, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll all become UKIP voters.
Take a look at Scotland – the electorate were able to say we don’t want to be separated from the UK, but we want compassionate representation in government – the SNP filled that gap. 
Take a look here if you think they’re all raving nationalists who think that the only good Englishman is a dead one…
Our parliamentary system is driven by disagreement and disquiet – that’s the motor that made it a vibrant, fluid, at times creative, and dynamic thing. 
For this system to function well we need opposing philosophies and paradigms – not a whole bunch of folk clambering to the right of the good ship UK.
If that’s going to be the case, it’s only a matter of time before we capsize. 
Looking at the piece about the Parkers in the Mirror again…
Other than ‘He had a job once, they’ve got loads of kids and they’ve got a fancy camera,’ where’s the back story? 
Where would your head be at if all you could see was a lifetime on the minimum wage ahead of you?
What would it feel like if the Parkers were your close friends, your family…?
What would it feel like to be the Parkers?
Ok, jettison those thoughts that say, ‘I’d never get myself into this predicament in the first place.’
Try again.
What would it be like to be the Parkers? 
Payday loans? 
Did the Fleet Street Fox’s only evidence that they shopped in Waitrose come from a picture of Mr Parker carrying some of his belongings in one of their carrier bags? 
Even then, how dare they use good middle class shops (that said, Waitrose will give you free coffees in their cafe if you buy…anything really…you heard it here first, folks), they should be living, working and breathing elsewhere – they’re polluting our very existence. 
The Mirror have even got a video to accompany the story – see how the silly Parkers are duped into thinking they’re amongst friends, folk from a newspaper they felt they could trust with their plight, who might see it from their angle. 
Silly Parkers. 
What hope is there for them? 
Other than using them as some weird parody of the bogie man, who cares? 
Walk a mile in their shoes
Chris

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24/05/15 Up Periscope

Well really…you’ve just cheapened yourself with those tawdry thoughts…
Whoops, sorry, that was me taking any opportunity for a schoolboy gag…

Anyway, back to the actual story. 
Thanks to a guy – Ronnie – who’s helping with Walk a Royal Mile – I’ve discovered a thing – an app – called ‘periscope’.
This handy dandy bit of wizardry allows the user to broadcast video and audio to the world – to anyone who’ll listen really.
So what, I hear you cry. Well, first of all, this morning on my 4 mile constitutional, I was talking to…well, I was talking and they were texting onscreen…I was talking to a guy in/ from Istanbul and a bloke in France who was born 10 miles up the road from Ella’s…it was great to be sharing my walk with other folk. 
That got me thinking. When we walk that royal mile we can share it with anyone who has any manner of smart thingumy – so people who can’t make it on the day can still be a part of it.
Go and take a look – you can join me on my training rambles – if you follow me on periscope @walkamile you can see and hear some of the beauty of the Cotswolds and chat with me as I go. 

And it’s free. Well, as long as you use wi-fi or if you’ve a ridonculous amount of data on whatever contract you have.

It gives you a merry little ping whenever I start broadcasting – and I can follow you too on any walks you go on. 

This feels tailor made for walk a mile. 

Ok, I’ll stop raving now.

Walk a Mile

Chris

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24/05/15 Walk a Mile the Brand…HHHEEELLPPP!!!

For those of you who’ve been following the walkamile gig for a while, you’ll know there’s an event looming, in conjunction with See Me in Edinburgh in September.
Hopefully this’ll be the start of something altogether…more widespread.

This means a brand.

Now, personally, I don’t think I need much help on this front, since my artistic prowess is second to….er, second to….well, just second really…

I was made to do art as my craft subject at school – mainly because I wreaked havoc in metalwork and woodwork. 
I was escorted from metalwork after heating up the handles of David Tong’s (yes, that was his name) tongs in the furnace and then laughing uproariously when he threw them up in the air….

My woodwork teacher finally removed me from brandishing sharp things about in his craft room because, I think, he was tired of whacking my bottom with his home made cricket bat every time I broke a hacksaw blade.
So, as you can see from this fabulous piece of work that art is my thing. 

  
Ella has moved on from speaking to me like one would speak to a 2 year old who’s painted a picture of Daddy, a picture that a chimpanzee with any ounce of pride would throw out, to breaking the news that this product of nearly 2 minutes work is, indeed, shite. 
That’s where you guys come in. Don’t worry if your artwork doesn’t hit the same dizzying heights as mine – we’ll have someone to take your germ of an idea to make it into something shiny. 

If you’d like to submit something – there’s no prize other than the heady kudos that comes with the knowledge that a man, with the same artistic aptitude as drunk rhinoceros, appreciates your work – you can post it up on the walkamile Facebook page, or tweet it to me here @walkamileuk, or email to me at c.mcculloughyoung@yahoo.co.uk

That’s if you think your art is better than mine…

I need something by Sunday 14th of June. So, what are you waiting for? 

Well…?

Walk a Mile 

Chris

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13/05/15 Walk a Royal Mile

Whoa! Before any of you think…well, whatever you’re thinking…the Royal Mile I’m talking about is the one that goes from Edinburgh Castle down to the Scottish Parliament. 

I’m looking for people to walk with me and others to talk and share their stories. 
I’m also looking for artistic and none artistic types to come up with ideas for a walk a mile logo – don’t worry if your artistic talents are on a par with mine, we can use professional graphic designery types to tidy your work up. 
I’m also looking for volunteers to help grease the wheels to help it all run smoothly. 
I’m working with the fabulous folk at See Me Scotland to develop the whole walk a mile gig.  

 

This will start with folk walking that Royal Mile in September this year. 
And you’re all invited. Yes, you…even you…everyone. 
Ok, I’ve got a terrible confession to make. I know I’m in safe company here *looks fertively left and right – checks under the bed* so I’ll tell you…
The Royal Mile…well…isn’t… No, no, it’s not that – I’ve got no idea if it’s Royal or not…
No…
The shock-horror news is that it isn’t a mile. 
Apparently it’s a mere 0.89 miles. But I know that information’s safe with you…
It’s just that ‘Walk 0.89 miles in my shoes’ felt significantly less catchy. 
The aim is to get people to undertake this ramble with someone from another walk of life – we’re particularly interested in pairing up a vast array of healthcare/ social care professionals with the equally broad group of folk with lived experiences who may or may not have used services. 
My main reason for starting here is that, over my years of pillocking about in the world of social media, I’ve noticed that there are many divisions. 
People seem to operate in silos. You have your professional silos – your nursing silos – social work – doctor – psychiatrist – professionals allied to medicine silos:
And then you have your punter silos – your service users – your people with lived experience silos – your *insert any mental health malady you can think of* silos…
In my experience there’s not a huge amount of cross pollination between these groups. 
My feeling is that where there is a lack of social experience – virtual or otherwise – there is scope for the insidious tendrils of ignorance, prejudice and stigma to encroach…yes, on and from both sides. 
Our brains are fabulous. Where we lack knowledge/ perceptual information they perform a pretty groovy trick called ‘completion’.
For example, if we are briefly shown a familiar shape – but with part of it removed – we will perceive a complete shape – our brains fill it in. 
Pretty funky, eh?
We do the same with all our experiences of the world – which serves us pretty well.
However, at times, and with very little evidence, our wonderful minds will come with a pile of old ballcocks. 
Ballcocks that we’ll reinforce with any ‘evidence’ we find about the place, including the interweb. 
Walking a mile – sharing stories and experiences – will provide a starting point for change. 
For those of you who’ve been following this merry ramble, you’ll know that I’ve met all kinds of folk from all kinds of places, all of whom have one thing in common.
They’re fabulous. 
The vast majority of people are fabulous. 
Which, obviously means, you’re fabulous. 
We’re – See Me are funding this and more – setting up a website where people can share their experiences of this walk and hopefully others – anonymously or otherwise.
Folk can do this with photos, blogs, photos, stories, poems, podcasts, songs, videos…anything that can be digitised and launched up into the walkamile ether. 
My hope too is to enable folk to walk virtually too. If folk are housebound they can link up with others using Skype or any other black magic wizardry the interweb has to offer. 
I’ll be following this up with a definite date soon – but it’ll in early September…
If you want to be involved in any way shape or form, and/ or if you have any ideas about all this,  you can contact me in a variety of ways
Email 
c.mcculloughyoung@yahoo.co.uk
Phone 
07535035909
Facebook
I’m the only Chris McCullough Young in the world – so that’s easy – alternatively you can contact me via the walk a mile group here 
Or via Twitter here 
@walkamileuk
I’ll give you the name/ address of the website as soon as that emerges. 
I’ve got to say I’m rather excited about all this.
Walk a mile 
Chris 
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